19 user 10 critic

The Glass Wall (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 July 1953 (Finland)
Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to ... See full summary »


Maxwell Shane


Ivan Tors (screenplay), Maxwell Shane (screenplay)
1 win. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A doctor returning from the Korean War to his hometown in Pennsylvania must choose what next to do with his life

Director: Irving Rapper
Stars: Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Dianne Foster
Two of a Kind (1951)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A lawyer for a rich elderly industrialist works out a complex inheritance scam to pass off a con as the industrialist's long-lost son and claim the huge inheritance.

Director: Henry Levin
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Lizabeth Scott, Terry Moore
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Police seek a smuggler while doctors, unaware she's the same person, desperately comb unprotected New York for a smallpox carrier.

Director: Earl McEvoy
Stars: Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, William Bishop
Night Editor (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

"Night Editor" was based on the already existing radio program in which a newspaper editor would recount the 'inside story' of some bit newspaper story, and later became a television series... See full summary »

Director: Henry Levin
Stars: William Gargan, Janis Carter, Jeff Donnell
Certificate: Passed Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Another of the "Fate and Irony" films from director-writer-producer-actor Hugo Haas but this one has less hair-shirt torment than most of his offerings, although his camera, as usual, ... See full summary »

Director: Hugo Haas
Stars: Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, Glenn Langan
Over-Exposed (1956)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Sexy blonde dance club girl learns the photography trade and moves to New York in pursuit of a new career.

Director: Lewis Seiler
Stars: Cleo Moore, Richard Crenna, Isobel Elsom
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Life at a 1950s women's maximum security prison where the warden and the guards are as brutal as the inmates.

Director: Lewis Seiler
Stars: Ida Lupino, Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Failed singer Marian Washburn confesses she shot her friend, successful singer Susan Caldwell, but her manager Luke Jordan and Detective Fowler doubt her story and cannot establish a reasonable motive.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Maureen O'Hara, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Grahame
Naked Alibi (1954)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A chief of police detectives fired for brutality, tries to get evidence on a man suspected of killing 3 of his officers.

Director: Jerry Hopper
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, Gene Barry
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In London, three otherwise law-abiding good men and their unscrupulous leader are about to commit a serious crime but for different reasons.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Gloria Grahame, Richard Basehart
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Orphan prodigy singer runs away from her oppressive aunt and tricks a rural couple into adopting her.

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Gloria Jean, Donald O'Connor, Jane Frazee
Illegal (1955)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After an overly aggressive district attorney unknowingly sends an innocent man to the chair, he resigns, turns to drinking, and acquires a criminal clientèle.

Director: Lewis Allen
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe


Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Peter Kaban
Gloria Grahame ... Maggie Summers
Ann Robinson ... Nancy
Douglas Spencer ... Inspector Bailey
Robin Raymond ... Tanya aka Bella Zakoyla
Jerry Paris ... Tom
Elizabeth Slifer Elizabeth Slifer ... Mrs. Hinckley - Landlady
Richard Reeves ... Eddie Hinckley
Joe Turkel ... Freddie Zakoyla (as Joseph Turkel)
Else Bäck Else Bäck ... Mrs. Zakoyla (as Else Neft)
Michael Fox ... Inspector Toomey / Narrator
Nesdon Booth Nesdon Booth ... Monroe - Taxi Driver (as Ned Booth)
Kathleen Freeman ... Zelda - Fat Woman
Juney Ellis Juney Ellis ... Girl friend
Jack Teagarden ... Musician


Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie, a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Shorty Rogers and his band and trombonist Jack Teagarden are playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla, takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE 10-HOUR MANHUNT...that tore New York apart!


Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 July 1953 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Die gläserne Mauer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Along with Jack Teagarden (trombone) in the nightclub sequence, in the band Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone) on the far left and Shelly Manne (drums) can be seen. Shorty Rogers (trumpet) is leading the band. He and Bob Keene (clarinet) supply off camera solos for the actors. See more »


As in so many other movies, a newspaper with an article relevant to the plot comes out impossibly soon after the event. Also, the paper is the New York Daily News, which is a morning paper. The story states that Gassman's character arrived that day. The deadline for a morning paper would be before midnight the day before, so the stories are always about what happened on the previous day. See more »


Mrs. Zakoyla: Don't forget, your dead father was a lousy foreigner!
See more »


References Red Mountain (1951) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Terrific most of the time, and terrible in little spurts. It has the UN, jazz, and Grahame!
3 March 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Glass Wall (1953)

A great idea, and two great leads--Gloria Grahame as a down and out single girl and Vittoria Gassman as a Eastern European illegal immigrant. And one mediocre directing job--by Maxwell Shane. I had just seen another Shane film that was pretty good, with some great performances ("The Naked Street" with a terrific Anthony Quinn) so I was looking forward to this. It has a great theme (facing the immigration system) and it turns our attention to the new world presence for justice, the United Nations. It also features some real musicians--Jack Teagarden and Shorty Rogers--and one straight small combo big band jazz number. (I put it that way because by 1953 the real scene in New York was bebop, this this style predates it.)

So, the best parts of this movie are terrific, mainly the middle section where the two leads help each other and start to fall in love, with hints of an urban "They Live by Night" in mood. But there are parts where you can't help but laugh, because they are either so improbable or the editing and acting is ridiculously off key. Director Shane also co-wrote this adventure, and here there are hiccups, too, even down to the central premise of a man facing deportation even though he has nowhere to go and has been on the run for a decade. For one, it's hard to believe the immigration laws were so blindly inflexible, but let's say they were. They have the reputation. But certainly New York City wouldn't get turned upside down for one man, not considered dangerous, who has slipped from custody. There are APBs and front page photos and a general panic on the order of Son of Sam.

But we understand the dilemma anyway. It's one man against the system, and that's always an easy one for choosing sides. Grahame plays a woman on the outs with great sympathy and conviction, and she's just the kind of hardened, soft-hearted girl you'd want to fall in with if you were on the lam. And the ending, as badly directed and edited as it is (you'll see), is pure Hitchcock for its setting and high drama. We are taken inside the new United Nations building called the Secretariat in Manhattan (the International Style Le Corbusier skyscraper was finished in 1952), in what must be the first Hollywood movie to do so (and perhaps the last in this manner until "The Interpreter" in 2005, the site being secret and guarded enough that Hitchcock himself in 1958 had to use a model instead of the real location).

This is one case where someone could re-edit it and have something of a minor gem, with high points making it worth the effort. As it is, the speed bumps are nearly fatal.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 19 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed